2017 Men's Soccer Season Preview
Aug. 22, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s soccer team wraps up its preseason training this week. Head coach Mark Berson and his squad will kick off the season on Fri., Aug. 25, as they play host to USC-Upstate at Stone Stadium. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the program, which was established in 1978.
Carolina will be a new-look team in 2017, as it graduated seven seniors that were key contributors in back-to-back runs to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The team welcomes 14 newcomers including five transfers. There also will be a change on sideline as two new assistant coaches joined Berson’s staff this offseason in Justin Cook and Tyler Kettering. The team has underwent a rigorous schedule of two-a-day practices since the first day of training on Aug. 9 and is anxious to get out on the field.
Berson overview of his 2017 squad
“Gamecock soccer fans will definitely need a lineup sheet when they come out to see the men’s soccer team at Stone Stadium this fall. The 2017 Gamecocks will feature a number of changes on the field. One of the most significant changes will be in the coaching staff where four new faces arrive. With so many new faces, it will take longer for the “settling in” process to run its course. I think the team you see in October will be much more refined than the team you see in September, which is usually the case. I just think it will be accentuated by the fact that we have so many more variables to sort out this fall. Having said that, there are things that we can count on. The first is great effort and determination on the part of our players. The second is good depth in the squad. And the third thing is great support from our loyal Gamecock soccer fans at Stone Stadium.”
First up in our position-by-position breakdown is the midfield. Two four-year starters in Kurtis Turner and Koty Millard have graduated and the reigns have now been handed over to underclassmen in a competitive position group that will feature many new faces during the 2017 season.
Coach Berson on the midfield position
“A lot of questions have to be answered as the gamecocks rebuild the midfield in 2017. Senior Spencer Meschter and sophomore Keegan Kullby return and will bring valuable experience. Both had injury problems last year, but they should be ready to go this fall. Four freshmen will also have an opportunity to be featured in this year’s restructured midfield. Petter Soelberg, Kay In ‘t Ven, Jared Gulden, and Aidan O’Brien all will bring significant ability into the equation. There will also likely be a migration of one or two of our defenders in to work in a defensive midfield position. I am very optimistic and excited about the talent we have coming in to our midfield this year. Again, there will just be a lot of variables to get sorted out as we move through the season – this area of the field probably has the largest number of variables to get sorted out.”
A talented group of returning forwards and attacking midfielders will lead the Gamecock offense in 2017. Junior Bjorn Gudjonsson, who will miss the first part of the season due to offseason surgery, is back after leading the team with eight goals in 2016. He earned Second Team All-C-USA honors last year and was the only player in the league to earn Offensive Player of the Week honors on multiple occasions. Sophomore Luca Mayr, who started 20 games as a true freshman in 2016, is also back. Mayr earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team after tallying nine points (3G, 3A). He led the team in shots (52) and finished second in SOG (18). Junior Trygve Ellingstad has significant playing experience to help bolster the frontline, as he played in all 20 matches a year a go and made three starts.
Coach Berson on the forward position
“The forward position has a lot of questions for 2017 but features five veteran returners along with a good group of newcomers. Bjorn Gudjonsson returns and has proven to be a force producing goals to help us win big games over his career. He is returning from surgery, and should be ready later in the season. Junior Trygve Ellingstad also returns, and has a wealth of experience in our program. Luca Mayr returns after an excellent freshman year. He is a bright talent that can score and create goals upfront. Chandler Corley and Smith Dawsey also return as players that bring experience to the frontline. Tucker Monheimer is a transfer, who along with incoming freshman Justin Sukow and Benjamin Gilligan will give us a solid group of forwards to work with. Assistant coach Justin Cook joins our program from Tulsa where he worked with some of the top forwards in the country. We are excited about the prospects that this group brings to our team in 2017.”
Four-year starter Ive Burnett and Matt McManis will both be absent from Carolina’s backline in 2017, but a trio of returners from last season is back. Junior Peyton Ericson leads the group of returnees with 33 career starts under his belt. He earned Third Team All-C-USA honors in 2016. Senior Christoffer Wallander Ianev, who transferred from Maryland prior to last season, played in all 20 matches a year ago and made 18 starts for the Gamecocks. Junior Andre Streete is also back. He battled injuries in 2016 but made eight starts in his 10 appearances. Streete headed in the game-winner vs. No. 12 Kentucky on Senior Night last season in the 86th minute.
Coach Berson on the backline
“Veterans Chris Wallander Ianev, Andre Streete and Peyton Ericson return. All have played key roles for us in the past. The backline will be strengthened by the addition of transfer newcomers Paul Quildies (Morningside College), Matt Morgan (UNCW) and Aleksander Christensson (Duquesne) along with returner Campbell Gibson. Freshmen Mitchell Myers and Brian Munson also have the ability to compete for a spot in the back line right away. There is a lot of versatility in this group and a number of these players can work in other spots on the team, especially in the center of midfield. This is all part of the settling in process that has to occur.”
In the net, the Gamecocks will be led by William Pyle, one of the top-returning goalkeepers in C-USA. Pyle went 11-6-1 in 2016, posting 68 saves, five shutouts and a 0.98 goals against average. The two-year starter was a Third Team All-C-USA pick last season.
Coach Berson on the goalkeeper position
“Goalkeeping should be a strength with the return of Will Pyle. Will has had a knack in his career of making big saves for us, and I think we all have confidence in his ability. Having said that, we have moved to strengthen the position with two new players coming and there will be intense competition at the position. Ian McGrane is a junior transfer from Green Bay. He has a good 6-foot-5-inch frame, and has really come into his own this summer with his play in the PDL. Justin Bauer is a freshman who comes to us from Orlando Florida. He is a bright, young talent in goal, having developed in the Orlando City youth program. Jeffrey Lu returns as a sophomore after gaining experience last year. He has improved physically in the weight room as well as on the field last spring. Another important strength at the position will be the addition of Tyler Kettering as assistant coach and goalkeeper coach. Coach Kettering has a number of years of professional experience as a goalkeeper in the US L and MLS. He is ready to develop these players in the same mold as our great tradition of goalkeepers in the past like Brad Guzan of Atlanta United (MLS) and the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jimmy Mauer of the New York Cosmos (USAL), Henry Ring of the Chicago Fire (MLS) and Charlie Arndt, who was the NSCAA National Goalkeeper of the Year in 1988.”